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Brain & Nervous System Health Center

“The King’s Speech”: Raising Stuttering Awareness

Colin Firth’s Portrayal of King George VI Is Praised by Stuttering Organization
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Raising Awareness of Stuttering continued...

Lieckfeldt hopes to dispel some of the stuttering misconceptions: “The obvious one is ‘if only you’d take a deep breath and think about what you want to say, it’ll come out.’ People who stammer know exactly what they want to say. It’s just that their body at that point will not allow them to produce the right sounds in the right order.”

“There is a misconception that people who stammer are stammering because they are nervous, or more shy, or more intelligent or forced to be right-handed when they are left-handed: all urban myths.”

Changing the Perception of Stuttering

When people leave the movie theater after seeing the film, Lieckfeldt hopes their perceptions of stuttering will have changed. “Stammering is something that happens to all kinds of people, not just to emperors of India.

“What I’m hoping they’re going to take away is that it takes a lot of courage to live your life when you stammer. For Bertie, it took a lot of courage to stand up and give a speech. Just as it takes a lot of courage for a 14-year-old boy to go to school in the face of daily ridicule and bullying. Just as the stammering young man goes for that interview; or he makes that phone call to try to get a job; or he goes to the bar and tries to talk to that woman he really quite fancies.

“It’s not easy to live a normal life when you are not entirely sure that what you want to say is what you’re going to say. It takes a lot of guts.”

Tips for Talking to Someone Who Stutters

Lieckfeldt offers these tips for anyone meeting someone who stammers for the first time.

  • Always listen to what is being said, not how it is being said.
  • Keep eye contact, don’t look away. That would indicate to the person with the stutter that you are feeling embarrassed.
  • Try not to finish their sentence for them, even if you think you know what they want to say. If you get it wrong, the person with the stutter has to start all over again which is exhausting.
  • Try to slow down your own rate of speech. If you talk very fast without pauses, that speeds up the general level of conversation.

 

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